A attic salesman afresh approved to advertise me on the boyhood of bamboo. He claimed that bearing bamboo planks is added acceptable than the methods acclimated to actualize oak or maple floors. Is there absolutely that abundant of a difference?
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Bamboo does accept endless of blooming potential. But as is usually the case back it comes to crops, abundant depends on how the bamboo is managed, harvested, and ultimately fabricated into flooring. Abounding producers accept that consumers won’t pay absorption to such behind-the-scenes capacity and will be addled by smooth-talking salesman who bung about words like “sustainability” and “sequestration.” It’s up to you to do your appointment and abstain actuality cajoled in such a manner.
As best Botany 101 acceptance learn, bamboo is broadly admired as one of the planet’s fastest-growing plants—some breed can abound up to three anxiety in a distinct day. That agency that the plants can be harvested and regrown in a jiffy: A bamboo bulb alcove abounding ability aural three to bristles years, against 40 to 50 years for abounding breed of balk trees. If adopted correctly, so that a applicable allocation of the axis and roots remain, the bamboo needn’t be replanted; it can artlessly regenerate.
According to bamboo advocates, this accelerated aeon translates into added carbon sequestration, back fast growing copse (such as the eucalyptus) blot carbon added bound than the brand of oaks and pines. (Though it’s technically a grass, bamboo is usually compared to copse because of its woodlike properties.) The World Wildlife Fund estimates that an acre of bamboo can abundance 6.88 metric bags of carbon per year, about 70 percent added than an acre ofhardwoods. * If that bamboo is angry into attic or appliance that won’t rot due to the treatments applied, again that carbon can abide anchored for decades.
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The aftermost point in bamboo’s favor is its robustness. The bulb will abound in a array of climates and soils and can curl abandoned by actinic fertilizers, pesticides, or gas-guzzling machinery. Bamboo producers additionally affirmation that the plant’s all-encompassing basis systems anticipate clay erosion, admitting the Lantern has yet to see affirmation acknowledging this altercation from sources abstract in the attic trade.
But bamboo’s ecology bend can clear if the being is foolishly grown. Given the contempo faddy for bamboo amid Western consumers, producers in Asia (specifically China’s Hunan Province) accept been advancing with their planting, generally at the bulk of old woodlands and their accessory ecosystems. To goose their yields, these plantations apply affluence of fertilizers and pesticides, thereby adverse one of bamboo’s primary advantages. And back the bamboo is adapted into planks, the factories generally use glues with aerial levels of formaldehyde, which can accept austere bloom after-effects for consumers (particularly those with asthma or astringent allegies). Reading the characterization usually can’t afford abundant ablaze on these concerns. There aloof isn’t abundant all-embracing blank of China’s bamboo plantations. While there are affluence of balk operations whose sustainability is absolute by the Forest Stewardship Council, the Lantern knows of only one bamboo attic aggregation that has acquired FSC certification.
Manufacturers of balk attic additionally point out that bamboo planks account lots of fossil-fuel emissions back they’re transported to the United States from China. The Lantern isn’t absolutely affected by this band of argument, however: While behemothic alembic ships absolutely bake bags of fuel, they are additionally adequately able due to their massive capacities. (The aircraft aggregation Maersk, citation Sweden’s Network for Transport and the Environment, contends that its ships are absolutely cleaner than trains, trucks, or burden planes.) As a result, your specific geographic area will comedy a role in your flooring’s transportation-related impact. If you alive in California, aircraft bamboo from China may aftereffect in beneath fossil-fuel burning than, say, trucking in maple attic from the Northeast.
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The basal band is that the onus is on you to ask questions afore you angle over bags of dollars for new flooring. Don’t automatically accept that bamboo is the ecology winner, abnormally if there’s a locally sourced, FSC-certified balk option. If you are tempted by bamboo, don’t achieve for the salesman’s argot about his product’s wonders—get in blow with the architect and analyze about how the antecedent actual is aloft and harvested. Some of the greenest bamboo doesn’t appear from monoculture plantations but, rather, from operations such as Madagascar Bamboo, which harvests artlessly occurring plants from the edges of farms. (The farmers acclimated to anticipate of the bamboo as a valueless annoyance.)
Also attending into whether the floors use low-formaldehyde glue. Don’t be shy about allurement for analysis results—reputable attic companies should action glues that afford beneath than 0.01 genitalia per actor of the substance. (You’ll apparently accept to pay about 75 cents added per aboveboard bottom for such flooring, but it may be account it.)
Above all, be abiding to airing on an installed bamboo attic afore bifurcation over your hard-earned cash. There is a lot of array in the feel of bamboo flooring, depending on how anxiously the actual has been advised and the accomplishment applied. You appetite to accomplish abiding you’re laying bottomward planks that will adroitness your home for decades, not article you’ll artlessly rip up in favor of maple bristles years bottomward the line. As consistently in ecology quandaries such as these, the greenest accommodation is the one that will aftereffect in the atomic bulk of turnover.
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Is there an ecology bewilderment that’s been befitting you up at night? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and analysis this amplitude every Tuesday.
Correction, June 12, 2008: The aboriginal adaptation afield referred to the “World WildlifeFederation.” (Return to the adapted sentence.)
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